Were the budgetary reforms to the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative appropriate? — Yes

Jane E Pirkis and Meredith G Harris
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03111.x
Published online: 6 June 2011

Mental health researchers Jane Pirkis and Meredith Harris say the government got it right

YES The federal Budget provides $2.2 billion for mental health care over the next 5 years. From our point of view, this budgetary provision is doubly positive because we feared the Australian Government’s Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative would be axed or irrevocably altered to fund other necessary mental health services. Better Access enables consumers to receive a specified number of Medicare-reimbursable sessions of mental health care from an allied health professional (on referral from a general practitioner who completes a Mental Health Care Treatment Plan), or from a GP directly. The Budget has modified the Better Access rules to achieve savings that are not insignificant ($580 million over 5 years), but its integrity has largely been retained.

  • Jane E Pirkis1
  • Meredith G Harris2

  • 1 School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.


Competing interests:

None identified.


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